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Growth in science jobs helps drive housing construction in Montgomery County

Artist rendering by KB Home

Job growth in Montgomery County’s science and medicine sector is driving demand for new housing in Gaithersburg.

Developers later this month will begin taking orders for luxury townhouses in a community called Crown, one of several residential construction projects there.

Work on Crown initially began in 2004. But the project was suspended during the recession. It was revived when the housing market picked up and demand soared in the wake of expansion plans announced by some of the county’s major employers.

Biotech firm MedImmune selected its Gaithersburg campus as one of three worldwide sites targeted for expansion, said Rob Robinson, Gaithersburg Planning and Code Administration‘s long-term planning official.

“Gaithersburg is going to have a huge research facility,” Robinson said, adding that growth at Sodexo and the nearby National Cancer Institute also will draw more workers to the area. “We amended their annexation agreement to expand from 1 million square feet to 2 million square feet.”

Crown is on a roughly 180-acre former farm site bordered by Sam Eig Highway, Fields Road and Omega Drive. The plan, the second of several phases, calls for construction of 58 townhouses. The three- and four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom townhouses are to range from 2,200 to 2,300 square feet and start in the $600,000s. The floor plans will include three- and four-story models.

KB Home

KB Home said it will begin taking orders for the townhouses soon. Once the lots are purchased, construction is expected to take about five months. Demand already is high, according to the company, as more than 500 people recently showed up for a preview.

Gaithersburg is “a very strong market,” said Vince DePorre, southeast regional president of Los Angeles-based KB Home. “The influx of jobs resulted in people wanting to live in that area. There’s a low amount of resale inventory on the ground. It’s very difficult to find resale and new [property]. There’s a great need for housing within this community.”

Construction is under way on the first phase of the project — a shopping and dining area. National brands including Harris Teeter, LA Fitness and Chop’t have signed on, DePorre said. The development is across the street from the Washingtonian Center, which includes Target, numerous restaurants and a movie theater.

Future phases call for the construction of detached single-family houses.

KB Home has built numerous communities throughout Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, including Huntington Mews in Alexandria, Martin’s Chase in Ashburn, Cherry Tree near Upper Marlboro and Middletown South in Waldorf.

The company suspended construction in this region during the recession, then resumed it in 2009.




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Dion Haynes · June 11, 2013

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